This weekend I taught my son to ride his bike. Never did I think this milestone would encompass so many life lessons I will need to teach him throughout life.
Use your brakes when you need to. There will be times when you see something arising ahead of you and have time to slowly come to a stop. There will be other times you need to slam on your breaks—coming to a halt, god willing, fast enough to avoid collision
Constantly be aware of your surroundings. The path that you’re on may quickly drop off or take a sharp turn that you were not expecting. As much as you need to be focused on where you’re at in that moment, you’re also constantly moving forward.
When you do fall off, get right back on. If you’re discouraged, if you’re scared, if you’re feeling defeated, you still must get back on. But do not worry: Although you will need to ride alone at times, I am still close behind you.
Wear your helmet. The times when you chance it will never be worth the risk. Never leave your protective gear at home.
Keep both hands on the handlebars. Maintain full control of the direction you’re headed in at all times—again, at all times. You are the captain of this ride. When you take one hand off the bars, you’re sure to lose balance.
When you get a flat tire, realize it happened for a reason. Learn why. Repair it. And then try to be on the lookout to keep that same setback from happening again.
Be ready to dig in your heels as you approach the hills, and when you come to your descent, remember what it was that got you to the top: hard work, persistence, and never-ending strength. Be proud.
When you falter, when you do lose control, use your legs to brace you. And when they give out and you fall farther, remember the hands that caught your fall will surely be strong enough to lift you back up.
Know that you are able to and will need to change gears. Be ready to shift gears and speeds and possibly direction at a moment’s notice.
Enjoy this ride you’re on, but be ready for detours and roadblocks. Surprisingly enough, they may take you in a direction you never planned, but one that in the end may lead you to greater heights with some pretty incredible views. Don’t rush off to your next destination without first enjoying the view right before you.
No matter how long of a time you are away from riding, you will never forget how to go. Simply hop back on, have confidence, and trust that your legs will remember their job to move your forward. It’s never too late to try just one more time.
When you become tired and need to recharge, take a break. When you become frustrated, pause, reflect, and then begin again. Resting is necessary; it will keep you from the dangers of burning out. Be mindful of when you need to use every last ounce of energy and when it is going to be beneficial to keep some of it in reserve.
Never look back. Never. Your tracks have already been laid, and now you’re focus is on the journey at hand. Remember, you’re constantly moving forward.
When you’ve pushed past your limits, do not focus on the riders beside you or ahead of you. Remember this is your individual race. Stay focused on your ride, not someone else’s.
Though your path may be covered with uneven ground, with more stones and unforeseen pot holes than one would like, that is part of the journey. Those bumps make you appreciate the straight, smooth trails even more.
Always know your compass that leads you home. Never ride so that you’re unable to find your way back.
And most importantly, as much as I don’t want to let go of my grip, I know that you are ready to ride on your own. Always remember that despite me letting go, I am still behind you the entire way. Even when you can’t see me, I still follow behind you to celebrate your victories, comfort your falls, and above all, remind you even when it’s hardest, to dust yourself off, get back up, and ride on.